Page images
PDF
EPUB

are of riper years; where, although the service
is for the most part the same as that for the
baptism of infants, certain particulars are added,
not immaterial to be specified in this inquiry.
Thus instead of the gospel from the 10th
chapter of St. Mark, which is adapted to the
condition of infants, but would be out of place
in the baptism of adults, the paffage selected is
the conversation, wherein Christ afferts to Ni-
codemus the necessity of the new-birth; and
which is made the foundation of the following
exhortation : “ Beloved, ye hear in this gospel
“ the express words of our Saviour Christ, that

except a man be born of water and of the

Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of “ God. Whereby ye may perceive the great " necessity of this facrament, where it

may

be “ had.” It must be enough barely to quote this paffage: it would be an insult upon any man's understanding, to attempt to make it clearer; and it would be fuperfluous to add more from the fame office. If a bare statement of this fact does not convince a man, nothing, I am persuaded, can convince bim, that it is by baptifm, in the judgment of the Church of England, that a man is born of water and of the Spirit.

I am afraid of fatiguing and wearing out your patience by multiplying evidences of what must already be fo clear. Knowing

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

however as I do, and as every one at all acquainted with the state of religion in this country must know, . that there are persons, who, not content with denying the do&trine of baptismal regeneration themselves, would fain faften their heresy upon our Church, and sedulously labour to propagate it as hers; I must folicit your attention whilft I proceed to Show by a still greater accumulation of proof what her doctrine is; and that she does not confine her affertion of it to her baptismal offices, but disseminates it over other parts of her Liturgy.

After being baptized, the first religious duty in which the Church requires a child to be engaged is the learning of his Catechism; and here, reminding him of the privileges to which he was then admitted, the very first thing that she teaches him is, that “in his baptism he

was made a member of Christ, a child of

God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of “ heaven.” In his baptism he was made a child of God! Made a child of God; not formed fo at his natural birth, but made fo by a fecond, a new, a spiritual birth; made fo at his baptism. As he proceeds, however, the doctrine is more fully and explicitly revealed to him. He is then instructed, that a facra. ment is “ an outward vifible fign of an inward « spiritual grace given unto us;" and that it

66 and

is 66

s is ordained by Christ himself, as a means

whereby we receive the fame” grace, “ as a pledge to affure us thereof." He is inftructed, that baptism is a facrament; and as such, of course consisting of an outward and vifible fign, and of an inward and spiritual grace :-he is instructed, that the outward lign:

water, wherein the person is baptized in: ** the name of the Father, and of the Son, and “ of the Holy Ghost;" and being interrogated, what is its inward and spiritual grace, he is instructed to answer, “ a death unto sin, and “ a new birth unto righteousness; for being

by nature born in fin, and the children of « wrath, we are hereby made the children of “ grace;" hereby, that is, by baptism; neither the argument nor the structure of the fentence çan admit of any other interpretation. What can be plainer ? Had it been the intention of the Composers of the Catechism, as indeed I doubt not it was, to affert most unequivocally the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, how could it have been more directly asserted ? Plainer language cannot be found. “ The

outward sign of baptism is water: the fpi6 ritual

grace is a death unto fin, and a new “ birth unto righteousness; for we are hereby 5 made the children of grace.”

The next religious office, in which the child is engaged, is the order of Confirmation; where

in he ratifies and confirms the vows made for him by his fureties at baptism. We have here then of course an allusion to that holy inftitution; and as if it were cautiously provided, that the facramental character of the institution should be kept steadily in view, we are reminded of the regeneration conveyed by it to the baptized. The Bishop who prefides at the office is thus directed to pray: “ Almighty “ and ever-living God, who haft vouchsafed to

regenerate these thy servants by water and “ the Holy Ghost, and hast given unto them

forgiveness of all their fis; strengthen them, ♡ we beseech thee, O Lord, with the Holy As Ghost the Comforter." The affertion is plain and direct : the Church affirms by the mouth of one of her Governors, and she af, firms it in the most folemn form of a prayer to the almighty and ever-living God, that he has vouchsafed to regenerate his servants, who come now to be confirmed, by water and the Holy Ghost: not, as hath been confidently alleged, " with a view to blessings contingent upon

their future endeavours 6", but with a view to those, which at baptifm they actually receive.

Hitherto we have seen frequent notice taken

66

See Overton, p. 104.

by the Church of the doctrine of regeneration; and it is remarkable, that the parts of the Common-Prayer-Book, which we have been hitherto examining, have either an immediate connection with, or an obvions relation to, baptism. And I think it no less remarkable, that there is (if I am not strangely mistaken) only one place more in the whole Book of Common-Prayer, wherein the doctrine of regeneration or the new-birth is noticed; and there it is noticed in perfect conformity with her expressions, that have been already cited, as an event already paffed, and one in which her members in general lave partaken. In her collect for Christmas-day, the Church is led, from a mention of the birth of Christ, to mention the fpiritual birth of those who are regenerated in him; who are made partakers of his nature, as he had condescended to become partaker of theirs. The collect runs in this form : “ Almighty God, who haft given

us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature

upon him, and as at this time to be born '" of a pure virgin; grant that we, being re“ generate, and made thy children by adoption “ and grace, may daily be renewed by thy “ Holy Spirit.” The petition is exclusively for daily renovation : the notice of our regeneration, and of our adoption as the children of

« PreviousContinue »